The re-introduction of the Dräger breathalyser in a pilot phase in the Western Cape is a welcome step that should be applauded by all South African road users. This is according to the Automobile Association (AA) following the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) recent announcement that Evidentiary Breath and Alcohol Testing through the Dräger breathalyser would be re-introduced from 1 August.
“This is an important development in the fight against drinking and driving and we believe all law abiding truckers and motorists will support this move in the knowledge that it will make them safer on the roads,” the Association says.
The Dräger breathalyser was first introduced in 2011 but was withdrawn after the Cape High Court found there were problems with the way it was used.
According to the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, the judge also found, however, that “… the breathalysers are a reliable means of testing for alcohol in a suspect and that they should be used as a tool to eradicate the scourge of drunk driving for the better of society”.
The Western Cape Department of Transport says the Dräger device can read how much alcohol is in a person’s breath and that the readings it provides can be produced as evidence to prosecute people accused of drinking and driving.
Following the court’s decision in 2011, the Western Cape government created a task team to work through the problems identified by the court and rectify them. The team comprised of representatives from the National Prosecuting Authority, the National Department of Transport, the South African Bureau of Standards, Western Cape Provincial Traffic Services and the Gene Louw Traffic College.
“It’s a welcome aspect of the re-introduction of the Dräger breathalyser that the Western Cape authorities continued to seek a solution to the problems highlighted by the judge in 2011. That they are now ready to re-introduce the device is commendable,” says the AA.
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) approximately 13 000 people died on South African roads last year. The AA say that any measure aimed at curbing this carnage is welcomed and would ensure those who continue to drink and drive are held more accountable for their actions.
“The message is drink OR drive – not both. Drinking and driving should not be an option. Once this re-introduction has proven successful, it should be rolled-out to all provinces as a matter of urgency,” says the AA.
Watch this video
For those who feel you can have a few shots and then get behind the wheel of your truck, take a look at this video. It is seasoned truck driver, Martin Barnard, trying out some special glasses designed to simulate a person’s view and balance after having imbibed – first with a few drinks and then after a really good night out on the town. FleetWatch editor Patrick O’Leary shot this video at the 2014 Scania Driver of the Year competition. The lessons that emerge from it are as relevant today as they were then. As Barnard says at the end of the exercise: “You’ve spent a night at the club and now you decide to go home because you can do it. You can’t.” DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!!